Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Manchester by the Sea **** (2016)

There's a quiet emotional stream running through Manchester by the Sea that stays with you long after watching the film.  Starring Casey Affleck as Lee, a handy man in a working class town, who withdrew from life for reasons that become apparent as the story unfolds. After Lee's older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) succumbs to heart disease he is named the guardian of Joe's teenage son Patrick (Lee Hedges), a popular hockey athlete at the high school. Through flashbacks it's revealed that Joe was the more responsible brother and was well respected by the community.  Michelle Williams co-stars as Lee's damaged ex-wife, but only appears in a few scenes. Quite simply, Manchester by the Sea is a film that must be experienced. It's ultra realistic and never tells the audience what to feel or think, it just is.  As we get to know the characters we see their dignity and flaws. The acting, especially by Casey Affleck, is about as good as you'll ever see. Relationships evolve and life goes on.The music of Lesley Barber adds a spiritual component.  Kenneth Lonergan's writing and direction are a series of small moments that add up to something powerful. Easily one of the best films of the year.

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